Parenting and Panic

My 13 month old son started walking this week. All of a sudden life has instantly changed for the entire family. His world has suddenly expanded to include more closets, cupboards and things on table tops than ever before. My wife and I have now unlocked the next level of parenting panic as he can now get himself into even greater trouble than before and we find ourselves trying to figure out how to baby proof even more of the house. This article by UChicago philosopher Agnes Callard does a masterful job of articulating all of the feels around parenting.

Parenting has a lie built right into its name: we should’ve called it childing, because that’s who is in charge...When you’re a parent, there’s a story you are deeply invested in, it’s not your story and you’re not going to get to know how it turns out—at least, not unless you’re very unlucky. Pretending one controls the story with one’s “parenting choices” is one coping strategy; convincing oneself that the story is already written in the genetic stars is another. The truth is, the story is not yet written, you care tremendously how it goes and you don’t get to write it. Which is all to say, the panic is justified...Parenting is a hostage situation: you’re in the car, but your child is the one driving it—and he doesn’t know how to drive. You can’t get out, because you decided to love him before you knew who he was—before he even was anyone. Your life split at that point into multiple tracks, and one of them is not under your control. The worst part is: you can’t even cover your eyes. You have to keep them open, to try to talk him through it. He needs your help, at least for now. One day, of course, he will stop noticing you sitting there.


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